Optical Connections Magazine Summer 2023

Bringing the World the Latest in Optical Communications News

ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023

Are we reaching the limit? | p8 FIBRE CABLE DESIGN:

WOMEN IN TECH: Making waves in the subsea cable industry | p16

ODN DEPLOYMENT: Sharpening the tools of the trade | p18


Nicolas Volet | p20


Media Partners to


TAKING FIBRE TO THE LIMIT Welcome to the summer edition of Optical Connections magazine. With FTTH/B rollout continuing apace, we examine some of the nuts and bolts of the physical fibre network. Regular contributor Antony Savvas questions how far fibre cable technology can go, what developments are in the pipeline and whether we will ultimately have to rely on developments in photonics to meet demand for data throughput. In addition, industry veteran John Williamson takes a look at Optical Distribution Network (ODN) and Outside Plant (OSP) systems, equipment and components. Still on the subject of cables, Nesa Scopic, product manager, Fibre Connectivity, at HUBER+SUHNER explains the intricacies of the European Construction Products Regulation (CPR), which provides a set of standards for Europe, including classifications for cable reactions in a fire. Fire is not a problem for submarine cables, but laying them on the seabed comes with its own unique challenges. In a new occasional feature highlighting Women in Tech, we talk to Pioneer Consulting’s Director of Permitting and Marine Environmental Specialist Dr Lorraine Gray about her work, her career and the challenges facing women in a male-dominated industry. Of course, once the cabling and transmission technology is in place, the network has to be monitored and controlled, using Operational Support Systems (OSS). However, with the switch from copper to fibre, these systems are having to change and the move towards running them in the cloud means vendors are having to rethink their offerings. Johan Hjalmarsson, Product Marketing manager at Swedish OSS vendor NetAdmin, talks to Optical Connections about the changing nature of support systems. And finally, don’t forget to register for our webinar on Support Systems for Fibre Networks on 21st June, 2023. If you missed our very successful webinar on Sustainability back in March of this year, you can catch up on all the presentations at https://opticalconnectionsnews.com/webinars.


Industry News


Fibre Optic cable Development Antony Savvas

12 CPR-Rated Cables Nesa Scopic 14 Operational Support Systems Johan Hjalmarsson 16 Women In Tech Dr. Lorraine Gray 18 ODN Deployment John Williamson 20 EPIC CEO Interview Nicolas Volet 22 OFC Wrap 24 Optical Connections Webinars 25 AngaCom 2023 Preview 26 ECOC 2023 Preview 29 Product Focus

Peter Dykes Contributing Editor

READ ONLINE/SUBSCRIBE: www.opticalconnectionsnews.com FOLLOW US @opconsnews EDITORIAL : editor@opticalconnectionsnews.com ADVERTISING: sales@opticalconnectionsnews.com DESIGN: Antonio Manuel


Optical Connections is published by NEXUS MEDIA EVENTS LTD Suite 3, Building 30, Churchill Square, Kings Hill, West Malling, Kent ME19 4YU t: +44 (0) 1732 752 125



ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023


European FTTH/B rollout up 6.8%

The FTTH Council Europe’s annual Market Panorama aims to provide a complete summary of the status of FTTH/B in Europe measured during September 2022. The study is based on data and information collected by the European Commission (through DESI studies) and information gathered from local regulators in each country, where available. Data is also gathered through direct contacts with leading players and IDATE partners within countries; information exchange with FTTH Council Europe members; and data per player for FTTH/B and other fibre-based architectures.

According to the Market Panorama released by the FTTH Council Europe at the recent FTTH Conference,

the accuracy of data from Ukraine and as a result, the FTTH Council have removed Russia and Belarus from individual mention in the report due to their actions and support of the invasion of Ukraine. Regarding the specific case of Ukraine, FTTH/B coverage in the country is estimated to be around 67% of total homes in September 2022, but there is no current data on the level of damage caused by the war on FTTH networks in Ukraine and despite seeing reports of amazing efforts to maintain the network as much as possible, it is not yet known how fast these networks can be rebuilt.

The UK is leading the way in terms of homes passed which has accelerated extremely rapidly since the report’s data collection point of September 2022. Full fibre coverage had reached 42% of UK homes, or around 12.4 million, by September 2022, representing an increase of 4.3 million homes between 2021 and 2022. Italy and Germany have also increased the FTTH deployment since 2021, although VDSL technologies remain the most widespread to date. The report notes however, that there have also been significant regional actions this year which impact

as of September 2022, FTTH/B coverage (i.e.

premises passed) in the 27 EU countries (including the UK) was up 6.8% year-on-year, giving a total of 55.3% of premises passed. For the EU 39 countries (including UK) the figures were 5.3% and 62% respectively. Take-up for the EU 27 + UK over the same period however, was a mere 0.4% with a total of 52.8% subscribers as a percentage of homes passed. For the EU 39, including the UK was 1%, with a total of 49.5% subscribers as a % of homes passed.

OIF launches 3.2T CPO implementation agreement

multi-vendor elements to enable co-packaging architectures, including the External Laser Small Form Factor Pluggable (ELSFP); co-packaged 3.2T copper cable assemblies; an operating linear optical module; and a variety of optical connectivity solutions. Richard Ward, technical editor of the OIF 3.2T Co-Packaged Module IA, Astera Labs, commented that considerable progress has been made in co- packaging, and this new IA, along with a collaborative ecosystem meets industry needs, including those of Cloud service providers, as they build their next- generation AI networks.

It can enable optical and/ or electrical interfaces for a 51.2Tbps aggregate bandwidth switch. The new IA includes interoperability specifications for the 3.2 Tbps CPO modules, including: 8 x 400Gbps optical interface options for FR4 and DR4 connectivity 32 x CEI- 112G-XSR host interface (or 32 x CEI-56G-XSR in “backwards compatible” mode); opto-mechanical module specifications; electrical specifications; control and management interface, enabled

innovation and progress in co-packaging, continuously seeking ways to improve and innovate,” said Jeff Hutchins, OIF PLL Working Group Co-Packaging vice chair and board member, Ranovus. “This IA is part of a trio of projects which include the Framework project and the External Laser Small Form Factor Pluggable (ELSFP) project. Building on OIF’s successful track record of coherent and laser module IA’s, it addresses the market need for interoperable integrated optics standardisation identified by the CPO Framework IA.” OIF also recently announced CPO specifications for pivotal

In its first project under the umbrella of the Co- packaging Framework Document, the OIF has launched an industry-first. The OIF-Co-Packaging-

3.2T-Module-01.0 – Implementation

Agreement (IA) for a 3.2Tbps Co-Packaged (CPO) Module defines a 3.2T co-packaged module that targets Ethernet switching applications utilising 100G electrical lanes and provides backward compatibility with 50G lanes. The module definition can be in the form of an optical module or a passive copper cable assembly and provides ~140G/mm of bandwidth edge-density.

by enhancements to the existing OIF CMIS specification. “OIF’s members are committed to driving


| ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023



STL launches 180 micron optical fibre

Sparkle boosts global transport network

STL has developed its slimmest fibre yet, a 180 micron optical fibre. This fibre enables the smallest diameters in cables with the highest fibre densities. STL showcased a next- generation microcable with 288 fibres capable of being deployed in 8 mm ducts and says is amongst the first companies globally and the first in India to develop such a product. The 180 micron G657 A2 fibre combines bend- insensitive properties with a fully backward-compatible cable design which makes it ready to deploy. STL says that as the service providers densify the network with more fibre, duct space will be a precious asset, and its high-density microcable

will help operators to pack more capacity in limited duct space, thereby reducing costs and deployment times. Paul Atkinson, CEO-Optical Networking, STL, said, “The amount of fibre the world needs is immense. R&D and innovation in fibre design will be, according to us, the most important driver for future- ready networks. We are intensely focused on product innovations that will enable fiberisation in a scalable, faster and cost-effective way. STL’s high-density microcable and integrated optical connectivity offerings will deliver a lot of value for our customers. I am also very excited about the fact that it will significantly reduce the plastic in the ground and contribute to our customer’s sustainability goals.”

Global cable operator Sparkle, has announced the deployment of state- of-the-art technologies, supplied by Infinera and Nokia, on its global optical terrestrial and subsea networks to further enhance its offering and meet the surging market demand worldwide. The new technology will initially be deployed between 23 major Points of Presence (PoPs) in Europe over 12,465 km, with the first link to connect Milan with Frankfurt. With the deployment of C band + L band (“C+L”) photonic nodes on the terrestrial links in Europe, Middle East and

South America, Sparkle is increasing its transmission capacity up to 38.4 Tbbs per fibre pair, thereby providing high-performance, scalable, and guaranteed connectivity services up to 800G per wavelength between key locations. Sparkle says the C+L

technology will also be deployed on all of

Sparkle’s proprietary optical subsea links, including the upcoming BlueMed fibre pairs. All new capacity injection on the MedNautilus in the Mediterranean Basin, Curie in the Pacific Ocean, Seabras and Monet in the Atlantic, as well as on the remaining subsea infrastructures.

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ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023


Openreach FTTP hits 10m UK homes

helping review, triage and refer patients based on diagnostic scans and data. Openreach also says the full fibre transformation could give a £72 billion boost to the output of the UK economy in 2030, according to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr). This is the equivalent of 294,960 new SMEs being created across the country or adding 25 new businesses in every local council in the UK. By providing increased capability for people to work from home, an estimated 431,000 new workers could enter the workforce by 2026. This will benefit older workers, parents and carers, groups that particularly benefit from remote, flexible working.

UK infrastructure provider Openreach has passed 10 million homes, businesses and public services, with the 10 millionth build in Ketton, Rutland in the East Midlands of England. The roll-out of full fibre broadband across the country is part of a £15 billion infrastructure project. Since the pandemic, the UK’s internet usage has soared, doubling in 2020 and increasing year on year with more data downloaded last year than ever before. The rise in usage is set to continue as technology becomes more sophisticated and integral to people’s daily lives, with social changes such as working from home and the boom in online learning. Openreach has also made

helping to tackle a range of social challenges, improving the lives of people across the country by bringing better technology and local services to areas which would benefit from them. For example, Openreach has already made full fibre available to over 9,000 medical facilities including GP surgeries, hospitals and research labs across the country. It says ultrafast broadband will benefit health services by improving connections with experts, remote monitoring of patients, easier access of records and faster appointments. The future applications are also exciting, such as the use of AI to achieve better health outcomes by

full fibre available to over 13,500 educational facilities such as nurseries, schools and universities, improving online learning facilities for students nationally. In addition, full fibre broadband is now available to more than three million premises in the hardest to reach, typically very rural, parts of the country, and over three million in areas identified by the Government as a priority for levelling up. Openreach has also made full fibre available to the top 25 areas identified by the Social Mobility Commission as least socially mobile, providing full fibre availability to 409,000

premises in these areas. The company says the network transformation could also play a role in

Cordova taps Pioneer for Alaskan subsea cable

Australian broadband worth US$8.3bn by 2027

voice average revenue per user (ARPU) levels. Srikanth Vaidya, telecom analyst at GlobalData, comments, “Fibre lines accounted for a majority 71.5% share of the total fixed broadband lines in 2022, which will increase to about 75.3% in 2027. This growth will be supported by the rising demand for high-speed Internet services in the country and the government’s focus on aggressive fibre network expansion nationwide under the National Broadband Network (NBN) project.” In June 2022, NBN made it possible for customers in around 160,000 premises served by FTTC in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia to upgrade to FTTP, to extend the FTTN to FTTP network upgrade program to about 3.5 million premises by the year-end 2025.

The fixed communications market in Australia is expected to see steady growth with a projected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.7% from 2022 to 2027, according to a new report from data and analytics company GlobalData. The Australia Fixed Communication Forecast Model (Q1-2023) finds that although there is expected to be a decline in fixed voice revenues, this is set to be offset by a rise in fixed broadband service revenues, which are anticipated to drive the overall fixed communications market to increase from US$8 billion in 2022 to US$8.3 billion in 2027, the company forecasts. GlobalData says this indicates that the fixed voice service revenue will decline at a CAGR of 3.4% over 2022-2027 due to the drop in the overall fixed

Cordova Telecom Cooperative, Inc., a member- owned telecommunications cooperative, has chosen Pioneer Consulting to oversee the engineering and design phase of its planned “Fibre Internet Serving Homes in Alaska” (FISH in AK) submarine cable system. The 276 km system will connect the cities of Cordova and Seward, with branching units for additional connectivity to Johnstone Point and the village of Chenega. Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s

feasibility study, resulting in its successful USDA grant application. Subsequently, Pioneer has now been contracted to conduct a desktop study analysis and a detailed engineering study for the FISH system. This engineering and design phase will define the FISH system requirements and is expected to be completed by Q3 2023. Once completed, the submarine cable system will provide multi-terabit capacity between the four communities, facilitating end-user speeds with the potential of up to a gigabit to local residents and businesses, achieved through FTTH links. The FISH system will also serve as a more advanced and reliable counterpart to Cordova’s existing fibre optic cable, which is vulnerable to a single point of failure, offering more reliable broadband connection to the region.

ReConnect Program, an initiative to provide

connectivity to rural and underserved communities, the FISH project will bring high-speed broadband service to the communities which are some of Alaska’s most remote regions. In 2021, Pioneer Consulting was brought in to assist with the project’s initial


| ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023




How far can fibre technology go, and what developments are in the pipeline? Antony Savvas considers how the industry is facing up to possible transport limitations, and whether it will have to come to rely on developments in photonics to meet demand for data throughput.

FIBRE STRANDS “The optical fibre itself is well developed, but how to cable that fibre for different environments and applications still has room for development,” says Massimo DiSabato, VP of strategy and market development for network cable and connectivity at fibre cable manufacturer CommScope. “For FTTH, for instance, there are two versions: the cable that carries signal through the country on a large scale (either underground or on a pole) and drop fibre cables, which connect to a home or business. While the former has multiple strands of fibre which are needed to deliver fibre to a community (hundreds, if not thousands of strands), the latter cable is typically a single cable or has a very low count. Given that the ease of handling and reconfiguration of FTTH, along with data centre applications, are different and always evolving, we will need to push the boundaries of fibre optic cable development to meet new challenges in the future.” Matt Rees, CTIO at Neos Networks, agrees that fibre’s time is certainly not up. “We’re far from the end of the road when it comes to where fibre optic technology can go. While there’s been a lot of noise around its mass roll- out, we’re still in the early stages of discovering the best ways to leverage this technology, much of which can be found in how we construct and deploy the cables. This is because every

customer has a different set of needs, so there’s no one-size-fits-all fibre solution. This demand for differentiation in the market will deliver innovation in the development of fibre optics, ensuring that we’re always finding new ways to improve the technology.” “We do not believe fibre cable is reaching development limits,” adds Raza Khan, senior market manager for Semtech’s signal integrity products group. “Fibre remains one of the most efficient mediums to send information from point A to B over short and long distances. Specifically for PON developments, FTTr (fibre to the room) benefits from the reduced bend radius of fibre. Small diameter bendable fibre that enables discreet installation in existing homes and offices expands the uses and reach for PON.” Also, reduced costs for rugged fibre cable and low overhead installation costs that enable FTTx to be used in emerging economies, delivers good returns by installing the fibre on poles rather than underground, Khan adds.

physics of light distribution mean data can travel more efficiently through a glass tube with nothing in its way, as opposed to being a solid piece of glass.” At the moment, he says, it is common practice to create buffer tubes with several strands of fibre optic cable within. Each tube has between 12 and 24 fibres within it, and this is useful when needing to bundle a lot of fibre strands together, such as counts of between 1,000 and over 2,000. But it’s inefficient for rural developments where there are very low fibre counts, due to less households being lit and lower broadband activity. “It is wasteful to construct only a 12-count fibre cable in the same way you would build a 1,000 count fibre cable, but new developments in the construction of cables themselves will eliminate the waste that would have been in empty buffer tubes, creating optimised cables for areas with lower fibre counts,” he says. These new cables are nearly half the size of traditional cable, meaning they are lighter in weight and use less material, so a lot more fibre cable can be transported in one go. Semtech’s Khan says hollow core can also have additional use cases, especially in 5.5G and 6G front-haul deployments over longer distances, where dispersion is present. “Semtech’s IC technology supports any kind of fibre being used with an optical pluggable to support these deployments,” he adds.

HOLLOW CORE Hollow core fibre was a definite

milestone in fibre development, but there are issues like losses due to bendability, light dispersion, and noise, for instance. CommScope’s DiSabato says, “While hollow core does have some limitations, it remains an important innovation in cable development. The


| ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023



We are very close to reaching the Shannon Limit in optical transport and are at a point where future network efficiencies are increasingly difficult to obtain.

Jimmy Yu, Dell’Oro Group.

FIBRE EXPANSION “There is still a considerable distance to cover before we reach the limits of optical fibre cable deployment,” says Jitendra Balakrishnan, CTO for optical networks at cable manufacturer STL. Global data consumption is growing rapidly, and this growth is accelerating, and we may be entering an era of even higher data consumption driven by emerging AI applications. “Therefore, we should consider deploying more fibre today than we anticipate we will need, as the cost of fibre in a network represents only around 5% of the total installed cost of a network,” he says Given the demand for higher speeds and capacity in networks, significant research and development is being conducted in various areas of optical fibre technology, says Balakrishnan. The first area of focus is network capacity, which includes modulation formats and the physical attributes of fibre, such as lower loss or multiple cores. Secondly, there is a focus on network architecture, which affects the efficiency and flexibility of a network, and this translates into fibre attributes such as bend insensitivity. Finally, there are the components involving optical fibre, ranging from cable design to interconnect technology, often focused on ease of deployment or the physical footprint. THE SHANNON LIMIT As for the Shannon Limit, as to how many bits of data can be crammed into an optical fibre while still being

look at the physical fibre as a channel, how the Shannon Limit is defined is important. If you consider current, commercially standard, silicon-based single-mode fibre as the channel, with a transmission band of around 750nm, the current Shannon Limit for that band would be something in the order of 1 petabyte for each fibre (depending on length and application). “Current optical transceivers limit the transmission rate within the fibre – not the fibre itself – and currently deployed transceivers are also a contributing factor to the number of multiple strands of fibre in a cable. As optical transceiver technology continues to develop, the transmission capability of the installed base of multi-fibre cables is effectively unlimited,” he maintains. Andrew Lord, senior manager for optical networks R&D at BT, agrees with some of what Yu is saying, when it comes to mitigating limits. “We are definitely approaching the Shannon limit for our high speed transmission core network, with the advent of 400Gbps per wavelength.” Options going forward, says Lord, will include extending to the L-band or simply using multiple parallel fibres, multiple bands (for instance, C + L band), photonic integration, and simplification of the overall multi-layer network infrastructure. While the demand for ever faster and wider data throughput remains, it seems there are still many ways to make sure the fibre being deployed by the optical industry can still cope going forward.

efficiently transported, are we reaching it? Jimmy Yu, an optical transport equipment analyst at Dell’Oro Group, says: “We are very close to reaching the Shannon Limit in optical transport and are at a point where future network efficiencies are increasingly difficult to obtain. This is one reason for the growing interest in increasing the usable spectrum in a fibre beyond the standard C-band (4THz).” Optical equipment manufacturers have been adding super C-band (6THz) and L-band (5THz) to their offerings to enable more spectrum per fibre strand. “In the case of L-band, optical vendors have recently introduced integrated C+L band systems, resulting in over 10THz of spectrum per fibre strand,” says Yu. “Although we have not yet reached the Shannon limit for optical fibre, we are approaching it,” says STL’s Balakrishnan. “The most advanced transmission systems can achieve 1Tbps, while the Shannon limit is several times higher. Therefore, the practical amount of information that can be transmitted on a single optical fibre is affected by many other factors that involve the entire system, not just the fibre. The latest approaches to increasing transmission capacity involve work on modulation formats on the one hand and spatial division multiplexing (SDM) on the other, he says. In SDM, the information is transmitted through spatially separated channels, as in multi- core fibre, or through adding modes, as in few-mode fibres. CommScope’s DiSabato adds: “If you

Massimo DiSabato VP, Strategy & Market Development, Network Cable & Connectivity, CommScope.

Matt Rees CTIO Neos Networks.

Raza Khan Senior Market Manager, Signal Integrity Products, Semtech. group.

Jitendra Balakrishnan CTO optical networks, STL.

Andrew Lord Senior Manager, Optical Networks R&D, BT.



ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023


SEC GLASGOW, SCOTLAND SAVE THE DATE 2 - 4 OCTOBER www.ecocexhibition.com






CPR-RATED CABLES: IT’S AS EASY AS A-TO-E Network planners, installers and operators face a range of challenges when it comes to meeting the demands for high-speed reliable full-fibre broadband services. Compliance with the notorious CPR-rating classifications may not be the first that comes to mind, but it can still represent a significant hurdle. Whilst regulations vary worldwide, the European Construction Products Regulation (CPR) provides a set of standards for Europe, including classifications for cable reactions in a fire. Nesa Scopic , product manager, Fibre Connectivity at HUBER+SUHNER explains. U nder the CPR legislation, cables are required to meet specific classifications, and they must be labelled accordingly. The CPR some reaction in a fire, and therefore, current regulations for Europe specify CPR classes Eca and B2ca, so a B2 rating would ensure the most protection, and an E would have the worst. There are different grades

spread slower, ultimately enabling people to evacuate safely in enough time. It is critical that building owners and installers understand and use the optimum ratings as this would determine the outcome in an event of a fire. TESTED TO STRICT STANDARDS The CPR applies to all cables – data, fibre optic, power and control - installed in domestic, commercial and industrial premises anywhere in the European Union. Brexit does not affect the implementation of CPR in the UK as it is stated on the UK government website that “all existing European harmonised standards will become UK designated standards”. The CPR states that regardless of its place of manufacture, if these are installed in the European Union and UK, the regulations still apply. To comply with these regulations, the cables must be tested accordingly, and this needs to be carried out by an independent Notified Body such as BASEC, an independent accredited certification body for the cable industry worldwide. There are several fire tests on cables available. These vary from a vertical ladder to a smoke emissions test. A vertical ladder test is essentially analysing flame spread of vertically mounted bunched wires or cables. A smoke emission test measures the

recommended for different use cases. B2ca cables would mostly be used in escape routes such as public buildings and tunnels, where large amounts of people would be, and they are not able to escape quickly in the case of a fire. Mid-range classifications such as Cca, would be used in places such as hotels and schools where there are medium densities of people. Lower rated cabling such as Dca would be used in residential environments, where people could escape a lot quicker in the case of a fire. Using an Eca cabling classification would produce more heat and the fire would spread quicker, meaning there would be an increased risk of people becoming trapped in buildings. Combining the cable fire reaction, with the levels of smoke produced, falling flaming droplets formed, and the acidity of gases caused by the cable itself, it presents a well-rounded profile of the cable’s overall performance within a fire scenario. For cables, the highest level of classification would be B2ca-s1,d0.a1, as the higher safety rating from all aspects - fire reaction, smoke, droplets and gas acidity - would mean flames would

recommend that all cables must have CE marking permanently installed in all household, commercial or industrial buildings or civil engineering work in the European Union. EN 50575 is the standard for cables which defines the test standards for assessing the cable’s ‘reaction to fire’ performance, and a method of classifying this performance. The main objective of the CPR is to increase safety in buildings and ensure the health protection of individuals. Achieving this objective is determined by the different classification types and how they perform in a fire. CLASSIFICATIONS MADE SIMPLE CPR covers not only the cables contribution and reaction to a fire, but also the levels of smoke, droplets, and gas acidity levels produced when in a fire scenario. For heat, the classification levels (known as Euroclass) run from A to E with A having no reaction and E having a base reaction, whilst smoke is from s1 to s3, droplets from d0 to d2, and gas acidity from a1 to a3, with the lower numbers meaning a reduced levels. Fibre optic cables would always have


| ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023



The main objective of the CPR is to increase safety in buildings and ensure the health protection of individuals

gases than a lower rated cable. Learn more by watching a short clip developed by HUBER+SUHNER about fibre optic cable fire safety in data centres which is available on YouTube. It is clear to see the positives of using the highest CPR products when it comes to giving planners and installers peace of mind that their cabling is suited for high density installations where fire protection is critical. Not only this but it also means cables and the appropriate plans are more likely to be approved by the building regulators, which ultimately enables for a more efficient planning and installation process.

to manufacturers like HUBER+SUHNER who supply a complete range of CPR cables that comply to the regulation and have the proper labelling as directed by the CPR. HUBER+SUHNER CPR portfolio includes the preferable B2 ca, which is their premium class for fibre and copper cables in environments that require high fire safety cables.

smoke density of cables burning under defined conditions. These tests and the equipment used for assessment are specified in the CPR standard. Once a cable is tested by an independent test lab, manufacturers are then issued with a certificate of conformity to the applicable Euroclass for that specific cable. This Euroclass rating is then used in the appropriate labelling. CLEAR CABLE CLASSIFICATION MARKING As set out in the CPR, all products must have the appropriate CE marking. After Brexit, this is known as GB marking in the United Kingdom. CE marking indicates that a cable is in conformity with its declared performance and that it has been tested according to the relevant standards. This marking must be visible, for example on the cable reel. The marking must refer to a dated standard regulation, and the declared performance (its Euroclass rating), whilst the labelling must refer to these characteristics, plus the Declaration of Performance (DoP) number, ID number of the independent notified body used,


Whilst these regulations have been in place for some time now, businesses still do have trouble understanding the myriad of regulations and implementing them exactly to the standards set out by the CPR. Merging this compliance with sourcing the correct, and quality, cable suitable for the purposes of varying applications, can make this an even more challenging feat. These businesses look

Nesa Scopic, Product Manager, Fibre Connectivity, HUBER+SUHNER.

and the intended use of the product. The purpose of CE marketing is to aid in increasing transparency and improving the functioning of the European single market. ENSURING PEOPLE SAFETY AND PROCESS EFFICIENCY Compliance to CPR is vital for the health and safety of the people within buildings. Take data centres for example. Using the highest CPR-rated cabling means that employees within the building would be safer in the event of a fire. Using the higher classified cables, such as the B2 ca- s1,d0.a1 mentioned earlier, would enable those within the data centre to escape from the building quicker and easier. This is because the cable would not spread as fast, produce as much smoke, form as many falling droplets or cause as much corrosive




ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023



From having a real-time view of everything that is happening across a network, to rolling out new services and ensuring a positive customer experience, Operational Support Systems (OSS) are the key to monitoring, controlling and monetising networks. Traditionally, these systems have been largely physically part of the network, but the switch from copper to fibre and the move towards running them in the cloud means vendors are having to rethink their offerings. Optical Connections editor Peter Dykes spoke with Johan Hjalmarsson , Product Marketing manager at Swedish OSS vendor NetAdmin about the changing nature of support systems.

PD As operators switch from copper to fibre, is it a case of rip and replace, so far as OSS is concerned or is it possible to transition existing systems to the fibre infrastructure?

run critical systems on cloud providers outside for example the UK or EU. So, I guess there will be niche players or special setups in the cloud space that can deliver these services.

reliability, scalability, availability and more. However, moving to SaaS or hosting by cloud providers is not necessarily an option, due to the need for OSS being close to the network and being critical to the operations of the network, as well as being affected by different regulations. Cloud can be quite expensive depending on resource consumption, and many telecom operators have their own private cloud, so they are able to rely on that investment for the moment. For start-ups it is a different story, they often benefit from a cloud deployment. When it comes to OSS there are some performance aspects when getting into the monitoring domain. You want to be able to monitor and control your network as close as possible to the network. Even if you have an outage between your network and your cloud provider you still want to monitor and control your network. This is not a big problem however, and you might work around it with local satellites. Another aspect of this is that there are more and harder security requirements, the Telecoms Security Act, Cyber essentials to name but two which are put on telecom operators. They cannot

With an increasing number of altnets/wholesale carriers coming into the market, each


The old systems made for copper have some fundamental issues in their data model that are too


carrying a mixture of different traffic types (i.e. mobile xhaul, FTTx, DCI, etc.), do these traffic types need to be managed separately?

specific for copper. They could for example rely heavily on the phone

number or the management of copper cable pairs. They were also built many years ago and don’t really use the latest technology. It is unclear how much they are left behind in terms of modernisation. Some systems have been able to modernise, but far from all. When it comes to fibre, the address or delivery point is essential. It is very important that you can model how the address evolves, from planning, to installation and activation. including how you link network elements to the address and perform a successful installation. PD Is OSS increasingly moving into the cloud?

When it comes to FTTx you need to have a lot of automation and self-service for that business case


to work. If we talk about FTTx in a wholesale/open access perspective, you also need a lot of good APIs and portals for external service providers in order to facilitate the crucial business processes. So far as mobile xhaul and carrier ethernet services are concerned, you often have a more manual approach using more manual quote-to-offer processes and service delivery processes but the potential for automation and standardisation is big. However, monitoring, inventory, address/location management, installation/maintenance procedure support can be shared.

Moving to utilising cloud technology, like containerisation is inevitable. It has to do with



| ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023



How important an issue is vendor interoperability in terms of connecting with other systems? It is important with vendor interoperability in terms of network vendors. We have seen

What issues are NetAdmin looking at for future product development? Currently we are working a lot with cloud technology, wholesale interoperability and different

understand the effort needed in developing something on their own. Compared to best-of-breed, in all areas it can be hard for COTS products to be the optimal solution, especially in the BSS space where there will be a level of compromise needed. If you are part of a bigger organisation, it can be hard to introduce a COTS solution into an existing IT system landscape. You could either partly isolate the fibre business, or you could slice the COTS product and just use parts of it.





that you start with a vendor and then switch to another after some year(s) and you must be able to handle that. In terms of connecting to other systems, that is always important. Robust APIs and other integration technology are needed, for example, with events generated to a message bus it is crucial to link the OSS to a GIS system, OSS to EMS, OSS to BSS or invoicing etc. We can also see that the TeleManagement Forum Open API can be a reference point for many of the larger telcos. It’s a good starting point when trying to integrate between OSS and BSS for example or between a telco, acting as a service provider, and a wholesale network operator.

security related standards. Since fibre is becoming a crucial infrastructure, we see more focus on reliability, availability, redundancy, security, and robustness from all parties involved, including the network operator, the customers, and the authorities. We are currently looking into some of the APIs in TeleManagement Forum Open API, and we are working with our implementation of an integration to the TOTSCo OTS hub for switching.

Thank you.


What are the advantages/ disadvantages of COTS solutions for fibre networks? One of the main advantages of COTS solutions is they provide a fast time to market. They also



We are seeing data throughput speeds increasing almost monthly with developments in,


reduce risk and the need for customisation and integration, as well as benefiting from knowledge and best practices. However, compared to developing something on your own, as a bespoke solution, the initial investment can be a hurdle to overcome if you are in a startup phase. However, subscription- based offerings are becoming more common, as network operators begin to

for example, optical engines network architectures. Does this impact on management systems?

No, not really. It only changes the capacity of the links, and the traffic grows in the graphs but not


Johan Hjalmarsson, Product Marketing Manager, NetAdmin.

more than that.


& Services

We are experts in the custom manufacture of refractive microlenses, lens-arrays and diffractive optical elements in silicon and fused silica. Dedicated to precision.




ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023



Marine Environment Specialist Dr. Lorraine Gray is considered an expert in her fields of marine biology and conservation and the impact of human activity on the marine environment. She has worked in government, various utility industries, has set up her own consultancy and brought up a family. She currently works for submarine fibre optic telecommunications consulting and project management company Pioneer Consulting. In this interview with Optical Connections editor Peter Dykes , Dr. Gray talks about her career development and some of the issues which, despite progress in gender equality, are still facing women who are trying to build a career in technology.

What is your current position at Pioneer Consulting and what are your responsibilities? I am currently Director of Permitting at Pioneer Consulting, which provides full-service

out there; the problem is that it’s usually left to governments to fund this kind of research.

sciences. Early on in my career, I developed a passion for spatial mapping and using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to map marine features, so that industries such as cable, would have more certainty about where their development would be successful and where it would not. Marine conservation features and human activities such as fishing, are often in conflict with new developments, and this is what really fascinates me.


What has your career path been up to this point?



submarine fibre optic telecommunications consulting and project management. Since joining Pioneer in early 2019, I’ve guided survey and installation efforts for many submarine fibre optic cable projects, including trans-Atlantic, trans-Pacific and trans-European. I lead regulatory and proprietary permitting for surveys and installations, in addition to acting as a liaison between local governments, organisations, and those who install the cables.

Doing a PhD is a great learning experience, because it allows you to develop key skills that you


don’t necessarily get in undergraduate courses. Those critical skills include presenting at conferences, which is normally left to the more experienced staff in a company; teaching, which is a great way to add to your stipend; and development of project and business skills. I had to apply for scholarships based on a proposal and this ultimately brought me to Australia for research! I then entered government work, where I learned to use GIS for urban planning. I then combined this skill with my academic background in fish ecology and commercial fishing -- that is how I entered the subsea industry. I’ve worked across most sectors, including oil and gas, renewables, aquaculture, ports and harbours, and more recently, cables. The beauty about a career in permitting and environmental consultancy is there are a

How do you think we can take subsea technology forward in a more sustainable and eco-


friendly way?

Emerging subsea technologies, such as autonomous survey vehicles, could accelerate


How did you become interested in marine conservation and the impact of subsea technologies,

progress towards sustainability. The output of these surveys expands our knowledge of what’s on the seafloor, which is translated into maps. I love maps, and we’ve seen over the past 10 years an increase in mapping platforms to expand our understanding of biodiversity and natural capital. We need more of this knowledge gathering to prevent harming what we don’t know is


in particular, cables?

My career began with my study of biology, which prompted me to question how society has


negatively impacted our planet, and from there I became involved in environmental


| ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023



Exposing the younger generation to female role models is the most effective way to help them recognise and fulfil their potential.

PD Are issues such as remuneration parity, the likelihood of taking time out to raise a family impacting women in the tech sector?

could inspire young people to get involved in STEM subjects. Companies should be sure to publicise the achievements of their female employees and get the word out about what’s possible for women in the field. By supporting and advocating for more women to become involved in STEM careers, greater diversity can be achieved that will benefit both the organisations that employ them and society as a whole. Having a workplace mentor will also go a long way. On an individual level, you can look for someone you admire and speak up about initiating the mentorship with your company. You may find that you receive support and encouragement that will help forge a path for other women in your workplace.

lot of cross-cutting issues with only the engineering design that changes. Also, because these industries are governed by regulation, there are options to work in government, which I have done for half my career. It’s a very diverse career path and one that continues to inspire me. Do you think there are enough female role models in the tech sector, and did you have a role model when you were starting out? PD

Yes. When I first began my professional journey in STEM (Science, Technology,


Engineering and Mathematics), while getting my PhD, I was a home carer. Decades ago, this was seen as a woman’s role, and to some extent it still is, as uncompensated labour and family leave inequality continues to be an issue. Lack of affordable childcare is a challenge that many families encounter. Ten years ago, while caring for two small children, I considered whether to continue working in government, where the majority of my salary would go to childcare, or start my own company to do contracting, in order to work flexible hours around my children - the latter being the far riskier option, which I opted to take. The less childcare is shared with men or underpinned by affordable care options, the more domestic responsibilities fall on women, and the more difficult it is for them to pursue demanding jobs in technology. Job security around family leave is also a challenge commonly faced by women in any industry. Once I entered the subsea field after working in government, I realised that there is a much higher number of women in academia and government, due to a greater safeguarding of your position, especially regarding maternity and family leave. Many women don’t have the time to pursue an intense career and this significantly restricts their choices.

The permitting and environmental consultancy world is actually very well represented by women. The


technology sector does have a different demographic, with subsea industries largely dominated by men. When I started in the cable industry, the Southern Cross-NEXT team had some great female role models and this provided me with confidence in knowing that there are opportunities for career growth and development. Exposing the younger generation to female role models is the most effective way to help them recognise and fulfil their potential.

Thank you.


Did you find that your gender was a factor when it came to getting jobs in a predominantly


male sector? If so, in what ways did it have an impact on your advancement, positively or negatively?

I think confidence is an issue that especially affects young girls. It impacts ambitions and belief in


what you’re capable of. Furthermore, OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) research shows that adolescent girls express a greater fear of failure than boys – I think lack of self-confidence negatively affected my advancement. Personally, I believe the reason science subjects are less popular with girls is because they require trial and error, where accepting failure is par for the course.

How do you think the gender imbalance in tech can be addressed?


LG Seeing a woman’s achievements, especially on social media, can lead to more attention being paid to women in professional careers. This

Dr. Lorraine Gray, Director of Permitting, Pioneer Consulting.



ISSUE 33 | Q2 2023

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